Former McDonald's restaurant site holds meaning for one familyMOORHEAD – When Amber Bender looks at where the McDonald’s restaurant on Eighth Street South used to be, she doesn’t see a demolition site.
By: Dave Olson, INFORUM
MOORHEAD – When Amber Bender looks at where the McDonald’s restaurant on Eighth Street South used to be, she doesn’t see a demolition site.
She remembers the place that taught her valuable life lessons, the place where she had a lot of fun and the place where she met the man she would marry.
“When I look back, if we hadn’t worked at McDonald’s, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” she said, referring to herself and her husband, Bradley.
The two worked together at McDonald’s about 10 years ago and later married.
It was her experience at that McDonald’s that set her on the path to the life she has today, Amber Bender said.
“Me and a few really close friends and my husband, we worked at that McDonald’s through the majority of our high school years,” she said, adding that her best friend worked at the restaurant as well and met her future husband through a co-worker there.
And while it would seem that Happy Meals and Chicken McNuggets are conducive to romance, serious learning also took place, according to Bender.
“You’re taught so many life lessons that you don’t see at the time, but now that I’m older, I see.
“Like: ‘Customers come first. Don’t stand with your back to a customer.’ There are things I learned at that McDonald’s that I use on a daily basis,” said Bender, a real estate agent in the area.
Bender said her two young children love Chicken McNuggets, and she will return to McDonald’s when a replacement restaurant is completed later this summer.
But it won’t be the same.
“When I was 18 years old, I was promoted to manager at that store,” Bender said, recalling the confidence and drive the promotion instilled in her.
“When people at school would give me grief for working at McDonald’s, I would say: ‘And how much do you make an hour? And what responsibilities do you carry?’ ’’
Gregg Matejka has a similar history with McDonald’s, having started working at the Moorhead restaurant when he was 16.
Now 49, Matejka is director of operations for the local McDonald’s owner and operator in this area, Steve Lind.
Aside from a newspaper delivery job, Matejka said going to work at McDonald’s was his first and only job.
“McDonald’s has always been a great place to work. It’s a lot of teamwork; it’s a lot of fun to work with other people,” he said.
He added that while the Moorhead restaurant that opened in November 1971 “served us well,” it was time to move on.
He said the new restaurant is scheduled to open about Aug. 10.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555